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Passport Countersignatory: "A person of good standing in their community"


Passport Countersignatory: "A person of good standing in their...

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rme123
rme123
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Hi all, wondering if anyone is able to shed any light on this one. Someone I know has just asked me to act as a countersignatory for their UK passport. I'm in a "profession" in one of the listed occupations, so no concerns there. However, in the small print it says that the countersignatory must be a "person of good standing in their community". To be clear, it does say someone in one of the listed professions OR "a person of good standing...", so technically I pass their test! Nevertheless, the alarm bells have started ringing. I have a (spent) criminal record for a quite serious offence, and I'm wondering if this is going to get flagged up somehow. The person I endorsed doesn't know about this, and it could cause significant problems at work if they found out.

Has anyone with a record (spent or unspent) had any experience of endorsing a passport application? Or perhaps someone from Unlock could share their advice?

AB2014
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rme123 - 15 Oct 18 6:58 PM
Hi all, wondering if anyone is able to shed any light on this one. Someone I know has just asked me to act as a countersignatory for their UK passport. I'm in a "profession" in one of the listed occupations, so no concerns there. However, in the small print it says that the countersignatory must be a "person of good standing in their community". To be clear, it does say someone in one of the listed professions OR "a person of good standing...", so technically I pass their test! Nevertheless, the alarm bells have started ringing. I have a (spent) criminal record for a quite serious offence, and I'm wondering if this is going to get flagged up somehow. The person I endorsed doesn't know about this, and it could cause significant problems at work if they found out.

Has anyone with a record (spent or unspent) had any experience of endorsing a passport application? Or perhaps someone from Unlock could share their advice?

I've just had a look through the government info, and they're quite clear it's an either/or thing. Given that there is nothing stopping someone from being in a recognised profession and having a conviction for a serious offence, I can't see there's a problem. Although I don't know for sure, I remember a friend who was a civil servant (permanent) countersigning my application saying they just contact you to check your identity, if they contact you at all. He'd signed quite a few and never been contacted, but they might be a bit stricter these days.
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I don't believe the authorities will look at the counter-signatory too much unless there is genuine concerns about the application of the picture itself. If you are happy to do it - do it. You are clearly operating within the guidelines issued by the government.
rme123
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Hi both, thanks for your replies. I think you're probably both right. But you know how it is with these things - you tend to prepare yourself for the worst!

Another reason I was slightly hesitant to do this is because I have an Irish passport (though I'm a UK citizen). It's not an issue in terms of my eligibility to endorse the application (you need to provide a UK or Irish passport number). Rather, I was hesitant because the UK government doesn't have details of my current passport as it's relatively new - having been convicted of an offence that landed me on the SOR, they did have details of my previous one. Since my time on the SOR ended a couple of years back, I haven't had to give them my new passport number, nor do they have any legal right to ask for the details. When I got my new passport, it felt like a fresh start. But the paranoid part of me can't shake the feeling that this is a pretty easy way for them to get this info, and that somewhere, somehow, someone will add me to a "watchlist" (or at the very least, a "person of potential interest" list). I have zero confidence in the UK governments' data protection, and would much rather avoid this kind of contact with them altogether! I know this probably sounds overly paranoid but the truth is that we do live in surveillance state in which the collection of an individual's data is a routine activity. 
BenS
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I totally understand your hesitation, given the reasons you explain. I don't think it's paranoid. Unlike most European countries, the UK doesn't care about data protection. When I lived abroad, every official form you filled in had a long clause saying your data won't be shared with anyone, including government. In the UK it's the opposite.

If you're a UK citizen, don't you also have UK passport you can use for countersigning? If you don't, then it would be useful to get one anyway, so that any "monitoring" is based on your UK passport and you can just use your Irish passport for travelling, as it will be both easier post-Brexit and less likely to be monitored by the UK.
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BenS - 17 Oct 18 8:29 AM
I totally understand your hesitation, given the reasons you explain. I don't think it's paranoid. Unlike most European countries, the UK doesn't care about data protection. When I lived abroad, every official form you filled in had a long clause saying your data won't be shared with anyone, including government. In the UK it's the opposite.

If you're a UK citizen, don't you also have UK passport you can use for countersigning? If you don't, then it would be useful to get one anyway, so that any "monitoring" is based on your UK passport and you can just use your Irish passport for travelling, as it will be both easier post-Brexit and less likely to be monitored by the UK.

Thanks for the feedback. I don't hold a UK passport so that isn't an option on this occasion. However, I have a feeling that even if I were to have a UK passport, they would almost certainly ask for the details of any other passports that you hold. So, they'll have the details either way. 

To go back to my original quandary - given that I agreed to do this and have already filled out most of the paperwork, I fear that it's a bit too late to backtrack now without raising any suspicions. I think I'm just going to have to follow through and hope that there are no consequences!

Thanks again everyone for your input.  
BenS
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rme123 - 17 Oct 18 12:46 PM
BenS - 17 Oct 18 8:29 AM
I totally understand your hesitation, given the reasons you explain. I don't think it's paranoid. Unlike most European countries, the UK doesn't care about data protection. When I lived abroad, every official form you filled in had a long clause saying your data won't be shared with anyone, including government. In the UK it's the opposite.

If you're a UK citizen, don't you also have UK passport you can use for countersigning? If you don't, then it would be useful to get one anyway, so that any "monitoring" is based on your UK passport and you can just use your Irish passport for travelling, as it will be both easier post-Brexit and less likely to be monitored by the UK.

Thanks for the feedback. I don't hold a UK passport so that isn't an option on this occasion. However, I have a feeling that even if I were to have a UK passport, they would almost certainly ask for the details of any other passports that you hold. So, they'll have the details either way. 

To go back to my original quandary - given that I agreed to do this and have already filled out most of the paperwork, I fear that it's a bit too late to backtrack now without raising any suspicions. I think I'm just going to have to follow through and hope that there are no consequences!

Thanks again everyone for your input.  

No problem - I think you'll be fine as it's an OR question and you satisfy one of the criteria. Who knows how often (if ever) countersignatories ever get followed up for confirmation.
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